“I still remember that day we got to work together to improve the hydrology at the restoration site. Many people dug in the pond, working together and I could see that they felt that the land had returned to them again. It made me so happy. I felt like despite all the problems we faced we finally felt united in the village.” Ms. Ladda Ardharn (Pink), the youth group leader at Ban Talae Nok, was instrumental in the success of the project there and pursued solutions when the land tenure issue gridlocked the project from proceeding. At one point, she organized a petition to demand their land back. It was not easy for a young woman to take a strong and active role against an influential male community member. She and the other members of the youth group had the motivation it takes to make real, lasting change – and you can give them the technical support and opportunity to make it happen. “Since we started working on this restoration together, the people of my community have hope again.”
When it comes to restoring deforested landscapes, letting them regenerate naturally through passive means is generally cheaper than human-driven, so-called “active,” restoration techniques like re-planting. But a new study finds it can actually also be more effective in tropical ecosystems. The authors say that letting tropical forests regenerate by themselves could help further large-scale restoration goals while at the same time saving money that could help scale-up forest restoration worldwide. The study, published recently in Science Advances, analyzed the findings from 133 other studies conducted across 115 landscapes to compare natural and active regeneration of tropical forests. Its results indicate natural restoration techniques were more successful than active restoration at restoring the biodiversity levels of birds, plants, and invertebrates, as well as vegetation structure. Specifically, the study found biodiversity in naturally regenerated landscapes was 34 percent to 56 percent higher and vegetation structure 19 percent to 56 percent higher than in areas that had been actively restored.
#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. MAP works to empower coastal communities around the world, providing support and building the local capacity to maintain stewardship over mangrove forests. MAP has chosen to remain small, partnering with other community-based non-profits in Asia, Latin America and Africa, while planting seeds of knowledge and support through a wide variety of projects and campaigns. As a result, most of MAP’s funding goes directly toward these efforts. We need your help to maintain and complete these projects.
Environmental officials in El Salvador are trying to establish what caused the death of hundreds of sea turtles found floating in the sea. Many of the 400 marine turtles were decomposing when they were discovered off El Salvador’s Pacific coast, the country’s environment ministry said. They were found floating around 13km (eight miles) offshore from Jiquilisco Bay, a biosphere reserve located approximately 110km from the capital of San Salvador. “We don’t know what caused the sea turtles’ death,” the ministry said, adding that laboratory tests would be carried out. “We collected samples from the dead turtles,” they said. “They will be analysed in a laboratory to determine what killed them.” A similar incident occurred in 2013, when hundreds of dead sea turtles were found dead off El Salvador’s coast between September and October. Authorities at the time attributed the cause to Toxic algae eaten by the turtles.
There once was a beautiful tropical island afloat in the pale blue waters of the Caribbean called Bimini, immortalized by Ernest Hemingway in his well-known novel “Islands in the Stream.” Luxuriant coral reefs and mangroves provided safe refuge for bountiful marine life including a myriad of fish, sharks, sea turtles and sea birds. Its quiet beaches and laid-back residents lent Bimini a special flavour of a place where sports fishermen such as Hemingway went to catch marlin and bonefish. Then everything changed as industrial-style tourism had come to Bimini. The island is now replete with five-star hotels, condos, restaurants, golf courses and marinas, all meant to attract the wealthy tourists. Large swaths of mangroves were cleared, shorelines extended by using land fill, threatening corals and sea grasses, marine life and a way of life for the local people.
The world’s tropical forests are so degraded they have become a source rather than a sink of carbon emissions, according to a new study that highlights the urgent need to protect and restore the Amazon and similar regions. Researchers found that forest areas in South America, Africa and Asia – which have until recently played a key role in absorbing greenhouse gases – are now releasing 425 teragrams of carbon annually, which is more than all the traffic in the United States. This is a far greater loss than previously thought and carries extra force because the data emerges from the most detailed examination of the topic ever undertaken. The authors say their findings – published in the journal Science recently – should galvanise policymakers to take remedial action. “This shows that we can’t just sit back. The forest is not doing what we thought it was doing,” said Alessandro Baccini, who is one of the leader authors of the research team from Woods Hole Research Center and Boston University.
A development plan establishing shrimp farms and timber plantations begun purportedly to reduce poverty in northern Sabah, Malaysia, has attracted criticism from local communities and NGOs, which say the project is ignoring communities’ land rights. The district of Pitas in the Malaysian state of Sabah is situated on the 40-kilometer Bengkoka peninsula on the island of Borneo, stretching east into the South China sea. This forested, hilly area slopes down to the coast along the Telaga River, through ancient mangrove forest. But since the 1980s, it has been increasingly opened up by government-sanctioned development projects; more recently, in 2013, mangrove clearance has resumed for the commercial farming of shrimp (also referred to as prawns). This resurgence has brought the company Sunlight Inno Seafood Company Sdn Bhd, which is supported by the government, into conflict with local communities that depend on the mangroves for their livelihoods.
The district of Pitas in the Malaysian state of Sabah is situated on the 40-kilometer Bengkoka peninsula on the island of Borneo, stretching east into the South China sea. This forested, hilly area slopes down to the coast along the Telaga River, through ancient mangrove forest. But since the 1980s, it has been increasingly opened up by government-sanctioned development projects; more recently, in 2013, mangrove clearance has resumed for the commercial farming of shrimp (also referred to as prawns). This resurgence has brought the company Sunlight Inno Seafood Company Sdn Bhd, which is supported by the government, into conflict with local communities that depend on the mangroves for their livelihoods.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will try to work out a collaborative sustainable mangrove management in the region amid climate change in a Mangrove Congress September 4-8 in Manila. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (DENR-ERDB) will hold the 2nd ASEAN Congress on Mangrove Research and Development with the theme “Sustainable Management of Mangroves in the course of Climate Change.” “Mangrove habitats represent both a vulnerable resource and a potential deterrent to the effects of climate change. Sea level rise poses a major threat to mangrove ecosystems as it induces erosion and weakening of root structures, increased salinity, and mangrove inundation,” the ERDB said. Mangroves have been recognized to play an important role as a barrier against storm surges as what has been observed during Super typhoon Yolanda in 2013. “Mangroves are also known to attenuate waves by as much as 75 percent through its vast underground root networks and high vegetation structural complexity,” according to Anna McIvor, team leader of the study titled “Storm Surge Reduction by Mangroves.”
A new effort to mobilize the world to stop mangrove deforestation and to undertake a massive restoration effort is underway. The goal of the Alliance is to expand overall extent of mangrove forests 20 percent by 2030. WWF, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Wetlands International (and now Mangrove Action Project) have joined together to take up this challenge. And that list is growing. The Global Mangrove Alliance was born of the belief that a renewed effort is needed across multiple sectors and geographies to give mangroves their due, and to massively scale and accelerate conservation and restoration of mangrove ecosystems. The know-how exists; it is the will and interest to act that needs bolstering. The Paris agreement and its focus on developing country-by-country plans to reduce carbon emissions is a new moment that will allow us to both accelerate existing work to protect and restore mangroves while generating and funneling significant new global investment. If we can generate enough momentum to accomplish these ambitious aims, we can improve the well-being of tens of millions of people and revitalize critical coastal ecosystems.